This article is an excerpt from my new FREE eBook, Motley Tribe: Real community is not ideal.
The first colonial slaves were forcefully captured and dragged by ship from Africa to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. This wicked and shameful practice persisted for almost 250 years, finally expiring in 1865 in the silent wake of the Civil War and the writing of the 13th Amendment.
But that was not the end.
We have seen many victories since then like the fall of Jim Crow, desegregation of schools, and the right to vote. We have also experienced many losses, not just as we look back on history, but even now as we grow tired and frustrated with breaking news of riots and radical racism in our own day.
At its core, the letter of Ephesians is concerned with the reconciliation of two groups of people—the Jews and the Gentiles.
As we have seen in our own nation, there are two parts to reconciliation. There is first a change in the law, and then, often more slowly than we would like, there is a change in the hearts of the people.
In Ephesians 2 Paul addressed the change in the proverbial law, through the gospel, that brought about the acceptance of the Gentiles into adoption as God’s children. Paul said that “the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph. 2:14) had been torn down between Jew and Gentile, making us one people.
The law has been established. Now comes the hard part. The hearts of the people must change.
Two thousand years after Christ died to unite us, there is still division between Jew and Gentile, and 150 years after slavery was outlawed, there is still division between blacks and whites.
Laws do not change hearts. But godly examples and role models often do.
Paul is a Jew, talking to Jews and Gentiles about reconciliation. And he does far more than preach a great message about it. He becomes the ultimate example of reconciliation.
He ministers to Gentiles, befriends them, and does life with them. In a way, Paul rearranged his entire life to seek reconciliation between the Jews and Gentiles. He says his entire ministry is for the Gentiles: “You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you,” (Eph. 3:2). But even that is not enough.
In the same way that Christ went to the cross and died for His enemies, Paul suffers for the Gentiles in prison. He calls himself, “A prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles,” (Eph. 3:1), and later says, “I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory,” (Eph. 3:13).
That he suffers in prison “on behalf of you Gentiles,” testifies to the transformation he longs to see in the Ephesian church.
Oh, that we would reach a place where we can do life together with no racial, political or generational barriers, but that we would see each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, ready to lay our lives down for one another! If we are truly one—if we are really “fellow heirs” (Eph. 3:6)—then there is nothing that makes one of us superior or inferior to another.
We are one Church, one People, one Body, one Bride. There is no superiority because we are united. But we have to learn to live like it. We must fight to know each other through community and live with each other in unity.
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)
What people group do you feel most disconnected from (i.e. you have very few friends of a particular race, belief/ideology, age/generation)?
Will you commit to research opportunities in your city this week to volunteer your time with a group of people you are not currently well connected with?
This is an excerpt from my FREE eBook, Motley Tribe: Real community is not ideal. To download the whole ebook for free, click here.